Porter-Gaud School's best in the classroom have been rightfully recognized. Curious as to what makes these scholars stand out? Valedictorian Parker Cline and salutatorian Eleanor Lee share their secrets to success and talk about the journey it's taken to get there.

Parker Cline — Valedictorian

1. How old are you?

I am 18 years old.

2. What are your post-graduation plans?

I will attend Minerva Schools at KGI—a university you’ve probably never heard of before. In a nutshell, I’ll be living in seven cities around the world over four years.

3. What is the secret to being at the top of your class?

I never tried to be at the top of my class. I really enjoy learning for learning’s sake, and that passion naturally motivated me to work hard and to put in the time studying.

4. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a kid, I wanted to be a chef. I don’t know why.

5. Now what do you hope to do?

In general, to make some positive impact on the world, as cliched as that sounds. As far as specifics, I’m still undecided. I would love to pursue a career as a writer or a game developer. (I probably won’t be a chef.)

6. What do you like to do outside of school?

I love reading, coding, bodyboarding, and walking my white and fluffy dog Ozzy on the beach, preferably on a sunny day.

7. What has been your favorite thing about high school?

The incredible community: my teachers and my classmates. They supported me and gave me a voice.

8. What is one thing you would like to change about your high school?

If I had a magic wand, I’d add a concert band. I enjoyed playing clarinet in my middle school’s concert band before I moved to Porter-Gaud in ninth grade. Porter-Gaud has a jazz band instead—a refreshing and exciting change in style from classical—but nostalgia comes back to me sometimes.

9. What are you most looking forward to after graduation?

Making new friends at Minerva. My classmates come from all over the world—80% of them, in fact, come from outside the United States—and they all have different stories to tell, shaped by their different experiences.

10. What personal quality has been most helpful in achieving your success?

During a field trip to Kanuga, the camp counselors gave our class a message: embrace discomfort, even if doing so proves challenging. I still take that message to heart today — in choosing rigorous classes, pursuing new hobbies and ultimately deciding to attend Minerva. It’s the biggest challenge of my life, but I am truly excited for what it will offer me.

Eleanor Lee − Salutatorian

1. How old are you?

I'm 18 years old.

2. What are your post-graduation plans?

After spending the summer with my family, I plan to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

3. What is the secret to being at the top of your class?

Ha! Do the work. Love the work.

4. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh, all sorts of things. In preschool, I wanted to be a teacher who played for the Red Sox and rode zebras.

5. Now what do you hope to do?

I don't know! Something involving writing and/or computer science that helps people.

6. What do you like to do outside of school?

Good question. When I'm not in school, fulfilling obligations, or sleeping, I tend to be reading, baking, running, or hanging out with my friends. So I guess that's what I like to do.

7. What has been your favorite thing about high school?

I've loved my community of friends and classmates, and growing in mind, heart, and soul alongside them. Also our patient, wise, kind teachers, because without them, we wouldn't know squat.

8. What is one thing you would like to change about your high school?

This change wouldn't be for Porter-Gaud in particular, but sometimes I wish we could un-invent all our devices and learn how to live with ourselves − no screens attached.

9. What are you most looking forward to after graduation?

I really hope that college will allow me more time to breathe. High School Overachievement Musical was lovely and very rewarding, but I'm tired.

10. What personal quality has been most helpful in achieving your success?

Oh my gosh, y'all. What is it with this "success?" Do you mean I scored marginally higher numbers than a selection of other people? Big deal. I learned a lot, though; I guess that's a "success." Honestly, the most helpful quality was being able to thank God for all the wonderful little details of my life − sunlight through trees, yogurt in the mornings, talking to my mom on walks − and then not be the best because I felt like I had to, but do my best because I felt grateful and wanted to.